Pull Ups vs Chin Ups – Which One to go for and What Can Build More Muscle?

Pull ups vs chin ups

Are you stranded not knowing whether to go for chin-ups or pull-ups? Worry no more! Here is the right answer for you.

From this post, you’ll get detailed, useful information about pull-ups and chins-ups. Also, Qyou’ll get to know the primary differences between them, which is the best one to go for and the science and anatomy connected to each exercise.

Let’s get started!

What’s the Difference between chin up and pull up?

In general, pullups refer to the case where palms face away from you(what’s known as an overhand grip).

Chin-ups refer to a situation where the palms face towards(what’s known as an underhand grip). I hope now you know what differentiates the two? Right!

Usually, pullups are done excellently at shoulder-width or wide-grip. In the case of chin-ups, they are done wonderfully at a narrow-grip or shoulder-width.

With that brief overview of the two, now let’s get into a detailed discussion of each exercise.


Let’s start with wide-grip pullups, a case where you place hands outside the shoulder width.

First, you’ll notice that pull-ups focus mostly on lats recruitment. Biceps positioning in a mechanically disadvantaged angle, whenever each arm is out-wide, is the reason for this focus.

Extended grip pullups put more weight on the lats.

Here, the lats become a bit more active during the exercise. Your hands will always get pronated whenever in a pull-up position, which is another reason for this emphasis. Also, this is the same thing that takes away one primary function of biceps, something which we refer to as supination.

You’re likely to enhance adduction at your shoulder joint if you grip the bar using a wide grip. When you do this, you will increase lats recruitment.

Now compare this case to a close-grip pull-up or close-grip chin-up, where elbows are on the front side of the body. Here, you will get less forceful adduction, and this will need more back recruitment.

Other than this, you need less elbow flexion to complete the wide-grip pull-up when compared to the standard chin-up or standard pull-up.

Focusing on Specific Lat Fibers

Our next point as a bit of speculation, but theory argues that the wider you place your hands, the more you’re likely to pay cross attention to the lower lat fibers.

Furthermore, the same theory argues that the closer the grip moves inwards, the more it pays cross attention to the upper lat fibers.

The reason here is that you’re likely to focus mostly on the lower lat fibers if you keep going wider. Also, you’re likely to focus mainly on the upper lat fibers if your hands keep coming moving inwards.

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Chin Ups
Chinups are more beneficial for targeting the arms.

There is nothing new in the case of chin-ups. However, this exercise demands a little more biceps involvement.

Forearm supination, which is one vital function of the biceps is the reason for this.

When you place your hands in a supinated angle, it means there are high possibilities for your biceps to generate more imposing force.

Therefore, chin-ups are all about focusing mostly on the biceps.

Neutral-Grip Chin-Ups

Neutral-grip chin-ups refer to a case where you place your forearm in a neutral position.

It involves mostly the brachialis, a muscle located on the arm’s outer side.

neutral grip chin ups
Highest force recruitment is reached when doing the neutral-grip position.

As per most of the individuals, neutral-grip chin-ups are easy to do compared to chin-ups and pull-ups. The reason here is that a neutral-grip position allows you to get a significant part of recruitment from the arm muscles.

Also, you will note that most people become more arm dominant and not back dominant in the case of pulling exercises.

Therefore, neutral-grips are the easiest since they ensure that you enjoy all the help you need from both your brachialis and biceps.

Why Do Pull-Ups/Chin-Ups?

Bodyweight exercises are the right choice because they are an excellent reality check.

However, these exercises can pose a significant challenge, especially in the case of an individual with weak relative strength and those who find it hard to move their body weight through space.

You will find it hard to perform chin-ups and pull-ups if you can lat-pulldown much weight, but your body-composition is weak, and you’re overweight.

Pull-ups and chin-ups fall under the category of the top-rated relative rated strength exercises. With these reality checks, you will find an easy time when you want to wok on relative strength and when it comes to getting things on the same bar with your nutrition.

Also, Note that there are many more reasons why you need to do pull-ups and chin-ups.

Which is the Perfect Choice Between Pull-Up and Chin-Up?

Before giving the right answer to this question, let’s focus on what happens at the shoulder joint while doing these exercises.

These exercises place you in a hanging angle, and they entail pulling your arms down (shoulder extension).

So, these exercises work the trunk muscles, shoulders, arms, and back since the movement pattern that occurs through shoulder extension is the same.

Therefore, these two exercises are all the best. The wrong or right side of the practices will depend on and change from one person to another.

For Beginners

For beginners who are finding it hard to manage at least one or two pullups, you need to begin with the hassle-free one and then take one step at a time up to the harder variations.

Start with neutral-grip, move to chin-ups, then shoulder-width pull-ups, and finally, wide-grip pull-ups.

For Advanced

Get more strategic about pulling if doing it as an individual over the bar does not give you any challenge. Focus mostly on activating the specific muscle that you’re working towards.

Always choose a hand placement that focuses mostly on your target muscle.

For example, choose chin-up if your target is on biceps. Or, select pull-up if your goal entails hitting the lats more.

Keep in mind that each variation is going to focus on specific muscle groups, and this will depend on the chosen one.

However, don’t try to stress over that muscle group, because your general focus is on all muscles.

Also, longevity has a significant impact on this case. Therefore, it is crucial to select an exercise that will ensure you’re focusing on a specific muscle without issues of discomfort or joint pain.

It does not make to choose an exercise that delivers what you’re after, but it hurts you, and you can’t be ready to put in all your effort.

Note that you can do pull-ups and chin-ups in various ways so that you can facilitate different responses from each muscle. How you categorize the exercises will have a significant impact on the results you will get.

Everyone Knows that Navy Seals are Lean and Mean.

How they get, that way has been a Bit of a Secret, until Now.

Take my Free book and train Your Muscles to failure is about as badass you can get.

Ready for the kind of workout?

Which Is The Best For You? Which Do I Practice And Recommend? 

I honestly like and do both exercises, but if you place a gun to my head (and why would y’all ever do such a thing?). I’d say that I personally like pull-ups done, including a slightly wider than shoulder width grip more than any other kind of chin up or lat pull-down variation.

My current personal record among this grip is my body weight plus an extra 65lbs for a solid 6-8 reps (UPDATE: currently about 80lbs for 6-8 reps). It is one of my all-time favorite (and strongest) workout.

However, this is nothing more than one personal preference. I don’t believe this grip will work any better or quicker than anything else… I just privately feel the strongest plus most comfortable with it. Do you? I really have no idea.

So next, which will work better plus faster for you? Which would I usually often recommend?

Putting the real best answer of “do what’s best for you” to the side for a second, I found out that the best (and safest) results occurred from using a mix of various grips.

Perhaps do pull ups for lower reps one day, and next chin ups for higher reps different day.

Possibly do chin ups for around 8 weeks, then pull ups for the following 8 weeks. In case your gym has neutral grip handles accessible, maybe give that a shot for the next 8 weeks. After that, then start the cycle over again by chin ups.

Of course, if you notice that a certain grip feels more or less perfect for you, you could make the apparently smart decision to do that grip more or less often. (And if you’re currently unable to do any with your own body weight or looking for more excersise, here are some alternative exercises to consider.)

Whatever it ends up being, some kind of vertical pulling movement (be it pull ups, chin ups, either lat pull-downs) should almost always be a main part of your overall workout routine. 

Bar BrothersA great routine that teaches all those principles in practice is –

the Bar Brothers 12-week program, a bodyweight exercise method that does an outstanding job of balancing out and combining the different varieties to get the greatest benefit out of them.

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